It looks like the only thing trickier than surviving a mission into deep space is getting all of your starships in a row long enough to send Star Trek 4 speeding into production.
The last time we saw Captain James T. Kirk and his pointy-eared pal Spock in action was in 2016 threequel Star Trek Beyond. Ever since then, updates on their next adventure have been sporadic at best, with news of stand-alone spin-offs from critically acclaimed talent and even a new prequel story drifting in and out of focus like passing asteroids.
Multiple writers and directors have boarded Star Trek 4 only to hit eject before any meaningful progress has been made, leaving this sci-fi tentpole franchise lost in space. However, a promising new update suggests that the crew of the USS Enterprise could be gearing up for a new mission in the not-too-distant future.
With that in mind, here’s everything we know about Star Trek 4 so far…
When will Star Trek 4 be released?
Star Trek 4 is currently without a release date. In fact, the film hasn’t even entered production so we’ll likely have to wait a few years before we can see the Enterprise crew back on the big screen.
What is the plot of Star Trek 4?
As it stands, we don’t have any details of what adventure Star Trek 4 will send audiences on. That said, we do know that the fourth film in the franchise is set to be the final outing for this particular chapter of the Star Trek story that J.J. Abrams started in 2009.
To say that Star Trek 4 has had a long and varied gestation process so far is a bit of an understatement. Initially, talk of a fourth film began before the release of its predecessor Star Trek Beyond and not long afterwards, auteur filmmaker Quentin Tarantino was reported to have pitched his own idea to Abrams in 2017.
This new take on the Star Trek story was being developed separately from Abrams’ primary universe and was reported to have an R-rated tone thanks to its violence and language. Despite gathering a group of writers to work on the project, Tarantino’s Star Trek ultimately hasn’t come to fruition just yet.
Madame Web helmer S.J. Clarkson was the next person to be hired to direct but dropped off of the film when negotiations surrounding the return of Kirk star Chris Pine and his on-screen father Chris Hemsworth fell apart.
Fargo’s Noah Hawley was then enlisted to take the franchise forward in a new direction that would’ve been starkly different from what had come before but involved the franchise’s same ensemble cast however his plans fell apart too, leading him to start work on the new Alien series instead.
Prison Break writer Kalinda Vazquez was the next person to be linked to Star Trek 4 before she was replaced by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s long-time director Matt Shankman. He was set to direct a new story written by Pet Sematary: Bloodlines scribe Lindsay Beer and Geneva Robertson-Dworet, writer of 2018’s Tomb Raider reboot.
Unfortunately, cast negotiations dragging on hampered the development process and it wasn’t long before Shakman left the project to tackle Marvel’s Fantastic Four reboot instead. Despite this, Beer offered an update in early 2014 that suggested that her and Robertson-Dworet’s story was still in active development.
"It's still on the tracks,” Beer told Collider. “I love that project, and it was another one that I had to hop off of to direct [Pet Sematary: Bloodlines], and that was a hard thing to do. But I love everybody involved with that project."
Will there be a Star Trek prequel movie?
Yes, a stand-alone Star Trek prequel movie is also in development from Abrams’ Bad Robot production company.
Set decades before the 2009 Star Trek reboot, the project is described as an origin story that will be written by Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter's Seth Grahame-Smith and Andor director Todd Haynes.
Who will be starring in Star Trek 4?
If Star Trek 4 does finally come together, the project will have to reunite the crew of the USS Enterprise. That includes Pine’s Captain James Kirk, Zachary Quinto’s Spock, Karl Urban’s Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, Zoe Saldana’s Nyota Uhura, Simon Pegg’s Montgomery “Scotty” Scott and John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu.
Pavel Chekov star Anton Yelchin tragically passed away following a freak accident in 2016 and it is unclear how the sequel might address his absence.
Bringing the movie’s crew together on deck might be harder than it sounds, with Quinto recently describing the process as “complicated.”
"I think there's a lot of other stuff, creative things," he said during a convention appearance in summer 2023. "The fact that anything good gets made is kind of miracle.
"I think it's about different people having different agendas and ideas about what it will be. And I don't know if and when it will happen... And if it coalesces again and we come back and we're able to do it, wonderful. If not, we had a great run."
Meanwhile, Pine has also shared his frustrations surrounding delays and being able to see up-to-date scripts. He even called the sequel “cursed” following its trouble getting off the ground.
“After the last one came out and didn't do the $1 billion that everyone wanted it to do, and then Anton [Yelchin] passed away, I don't know. It just... feels like it's cursed,” he told Esquire.
"I know costume designers that have read scripts before the actors. I would say it's frustrating. It doesn't really foster the greatest sense of partnership, but it's how it's always been. I love the character. I love the people. I love the franchise. But to try to change the system in which things are created – I just can't do it. I don't have the energy."
Speaking to ComicBook.com in late January 2024, Saldana said she would be "grateful" for one more outing with her galaxy exploring colleagues.
"I mean, I heard what you heard in the trades. I just heard they're gearing up to do a new one with a younger, sort of, take on it... I don't know if it's from the before or the after, but that they really still hope to grab all of us veterans and bring us back for one last round.
"Listen, I know it's a lot to wrangle a whole bunch of people with busy schedules," she added. "But working with J.J. Abrams, and for J.J. Abrams at Bad Robot, was always just a wonderful and beautiful experience for me. So, if I get to do that one last time, I would be so grateful."
If the crew of the USS Enterprise manage to get their act together, only then can then start to discuss who might be playing their new big-bad plus anyone else who may return - or be introduced - in Star Trek 4.
Is there a trailer for Star Trek 4?
Unfortunately, there’s no trailer or footage available for Star Trek 4 just yet.
Star Trek 4 is still in development.